Calcutta redeemed itself within days of turning a blind eye to an abandoned newborn, this time by coming to the rescue of another.
If last Thursday saw some residents of Baguiati pretending not to have witnessed from a shameful distance an infant lying in a lane, being devoured by dogs , Monday found passers-by on Mayo Road playing protector to a baby girl, left on the pavement wrapped in a white towel.
Around 1 pm, motorists and pedestrians found the baby lying in front of the West Bengal Volleyball Association tent. They immediately formed a protective ring around the helpless infant and alerted the police.
'As soon as news reached Maidan police station, officers arrived on the spot and took the baby to SSKM Hospital, where she was admitted for treatment,' said Anuj Sharma, deputy commissioner of police (south division).
Police suspect the seven-day-old baby might have been dumped by any of the passing cars moving down Mayo Road in the early afternoon flow of traffic.
After the girl was brought to SSKM Hospital, a team of paediatricians checked her thoroughly and concluded that she was doing fine.
'She is not premature, as initially thought. She has been kept in our neo-natology ward and round-the-clock monitoring has been ordered,' said medical superintendent-cum-vice-principal of SSKM Hospital, Santanu Tripathi.
It was around 1 pm when a passer-by first noticed the bundle of white, with a tiny head poking from one end of the towel. 'When I went close, I saw the towel move. I then realised that it was a baby that was alive. I stopped and called out to others who were walking down the road,' recounted Nabendu Ray.
Displaying compassion far removed from the callous indifference of a few fellow citizens a few days ago, a group of around 20 quickly gathered around the baby.
On seeing pedestrians crowding the pavement, some motorists also pulled up and joined in.
'We formed a ring around the baby. She was lying on the pavement. We tried to shield her from the blazing sun. I spread my handkerchief over her little head,' said Satish Lakhani, who was driving down Mayo Road but stopped to help.
Lakhani called up OC Control from his cell phone and alerted the Lalbazar police headquarters about the baby abandoned on the pavement.
'We received a message from the control room and went to the spot. The girl was fully protected by the people. We carefully removed her and rushed to hospital. Following a preliminary medical check-up, the doctors said nothing was wrong with the baby's health,' said an officer of Maidan police station.
The hospital authorities, in the hope of finding a suitable home for her, got in touch with Missionaries of Charity and other organisations.
'But we were told of the legal complications. So, we will hand her over to court and hope and pray that she does find parents,' Tripathi added.
As news of the baby girl spread, inquiries started pouring in at SSKM. 'One couple appeared keen to adopt the baby and so we asked them to get in touch with the appropriate authorities and work out the legalities,' added SSKM superintendent Tripathi.